“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.” – Maria Montessori
As my daughter turned three this year, I knew I had to look for preparatory schools soon. Her age was ripe for nursery, and the challenge was to find a good place that would build a solid foundation for her elementary school.
As we shopped for schools, there are so many factors we had to consider:
Traffic in Manila is really tiring and time consuming. So we wanted to find a place that was nearby so that Sofie won’t spend hours on the road just to get to school. Also, being nearby is an advantage to the yaya and Lola who will bring her to school, as they can easily go back home and do other things, then just come back for her during dismissal time. The proximity would also help us go to her quickly in case of emergencies.
For working parents, transportation is a big factor to consider. We needed to find a school that would be near enough to transport our daughter by walking or by tricycle, as we cannot bring her to and fetch her from school all the time. The nearer the school, the lower the cost as well for service fees.
3. Classroom and School Size
Do you want a big school or a small school? How many students are in one class? What is the teacher- student ratio? A smaller class is better for us, as teachers can give more attention to toddlers who might be easily distracted by toys or play time. Teacher aides are also a plus, especially for toilet emergencies.
4. School hours
What time are her classes? How many hours will she be in class? This would help us work around prep time (breakfast, bath time, rush hour, nap time, etc) and ensure that our daughter is alert, active and ready to learn in class.
5. Tuition Fee
Enrollment fees today are no joke, and they do take up a major chunk of your income and savings so the fees is a big factor to consider. Miscellaneous fees such as books, uniforms, school supplies, field trips should also be added to the total enrollment fund, so parents are better prepared.
Payment schemes also come into play. Of course, paying in full is encouraged by the school as it means cheaper fees, but installment mode of payment would also be comfortable enough for the parents to financially fulfill, weighed in with all other daily expenses and investments.
Is the school located on a busy street? Are there gates in place? Is there a guard at he entrance? We need to ensure that our daughter will be safe in her school grounds, especially from strangers.
7. School type and curriculum
Would you want a traditional, progressive or Montessori type?
I knew at the onset that I was looking for a Montessori— a school that would help kids learn about ABCs in a more intearactive environment, and also teach them basic life skills and independence. Most of my mommy friends were products of Montessori themselves, and their testimonials only pushed me to look for a similar school curriculum for my daughter.
And so look for a Montessori we did. Lo and behold, there was a nearby school near our village, about ten minutes away: Montessori at Work. The school is near the house, so we can worked arrangements with a neighbor tricycle driver so he could bring Sofie to school and fetch Lola and Yaya as well when class is over.
Classes are from 1030 am to 1230 pm, not too early and just enough for traffic to pass after rush hour. Her nap time would also be right after class, so the schedule is just right. Grounds are secure enough as there are gates and glass doors so only authorized fetchers will be allowed in the premises, and only during fetching time.
Fees are not too expensive, and already covers uniforms and school supplies. For tuition fee, we chose the middle ground – semestral payment. This would help us save enough for the next payment, with the least amount of installment add ons. The time would also help us to evaluate if Sofie would adjust well to her new school enviroment.
Sofie has been enjoying her stay at Montessori. She has two teachers in a class of seven, together with a teacher aide. The school uses didactic objects to facilitate both learning and play. Books are converted to drill sheets, so teachers can assess and personalize exercises based on the child’s readiness and grasp of the lesson. Plus the environment and faculty are supportive and encouraging. (Sometimes, a mother’s intuition or vibe, though unfounded, is usually accurate!)
Hope Sofie would learn a lot from Montessori at Work. Here’s to the start of our schooling adventure!